Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Teriyaki Tofu & Bok Choy

Teriyaki Tofu with Wild Mushrooms & Soba Noodles pg. 189
Bok Choy with Lemon Tahini Sauce pg. 214
Teriyaki Tofu
Today I decided to continue to conquer my fear of tofu.  Since I left tofu on a high note yesterday I figured why not really go for it today.  I dove in head first with a pretty big recipe.  I made Teriyaki Tofu with Wild Mushrooms and Soba Noodles.  This recipe was given a "2" in CSK and it deserves it.  It is a big one with lots of steps.  Just look at the ingredients needed to make this one.
To begin with you need to make the teriyaki marinade.  The marinade was fantastic.  You need to marinate the tofu before you bake it.  So plan on marinating a couple hours before you start to cook.
All was going pretty smoothly as I prepared the dinner.  Now I want you to picture a scene from Julie/Julia.  Ready? There is a part in the movie when Julie Powell drops her chicken on the floor.  She goes on to lay on the floor crying like a child because her meal was ruined.  I didn't drop my dinner, but I ruined my meal!  I literally felt the tears fill my eyes.  What did I do you ask?  First let me ask you, have you ever made buckwheat soba noodles?  Me either!  Until tonight when I had to make them twice.  Here is my first batch.

Mushy Mess

In the trash!
In the trash they went.  They turned too fricken mushy.  I thought tofu was icky wiggly, but I stand corrected buckwheat soba noodles are icky wiggly!  So as my husband saw the tears begin to fill my eyes he said, "I will go get more."  I love this man.  He is so good to me.  I picked all the veggies out of my soba mush, and boiled more water.  The second batch I kept the noodles really al dente.  Ya know what, the f-ing noodles were still kind of mushy.  That pissed me off. (Excuse my language!)

The teriyaki tofu turned out quite beautiful, and if you like tofu I am sure you would love this.
I would love to hear others experiences cooking with buckwheat soba noodles.  They are just noodles for goodness sake! That shouldn't have been the most complicated part of this recipe.  I know if I had to do it over I would have used some other noodle type. Maybe rice noodles?  I spent $6.99 (On sale!) twice on buckwheat soba noodles, and I will never buy them ever again.  They tasted pretty good, but the texture was awful.  Chef Sarno help me out, any tips?
I also made Bok Choy with Lemon Tahini Sauce because I am obviously a total over achiever. 
It was easy to prepare, and tasted quite good.  Bok Choy is a little bitter, but I loved the tahini sauce.  I wonder what spinach would have tasted like vs the bok choy in this recipe?
Bok Choy
I felt pretty ambitious tonight.  I wish I could say it was all a success.  Parts of it were really good.  The sauces from the Teriyaki Tofu were quite delicious as was the tahini sauce.  Not my best meal, but I am proud of myself for giving it a solid effort.

Oh by the way, today I got a nice surprise from none other than Kris Carr herself!  Check it out:
That felt pretty cool!  What am I saying?  It was awesome!! Thanks Kris:) 

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

A Meltdown & Super Easy Chocolate Pie

Super Easy Chocolate Pie pg. 271  
*Warning I was on a major soapbox when I wrote this blog post.  I didn't delete it because when you are blogging 5 times a week you occasionally have a bad day!  
Super Easy Chocolate Pie
I have about 44 recipes left in the Crazy Sexy Kitchen project.  Some of those recipes involve tofu. Icky wiggily tofu. I am not a fan of tofu (Can you tell?), nor are my kiddos into tofu. Tofu is like Julie Powell's lobster. It scares me.  How do I get excited about that?
Kris Carr said so herself on her radio broadcast this morning that people aren't interested in a cleanse right now. People are just wanting to "feed" themselves.  Tofu isn't going to feed me. Granted maybe tofu doesn't constitute cleansing food, but it isn't a comfort food either.  I am feeling a bit deflated as I pump myself up to make tofu.  I volunteered to cook my way through CSK.  I have to keep reminding myself of this.  I just don't like tofu. Don't hate me. 

This whole blog has become more than a cooking project. It forces me daily to examine myself.  To push myself.  To cheer for myself.  I don't think I ever told you what Kris said when I reached 100 recipes.  Wait for it... "Yes!!"  Y-E-S on a Facebook picture I posted!! I know, mind blowing right! Ya, not so much.  Some of my friends have asked me what will you get when this project is all said and done?  That is a gut wrenching and embarrassing question because the truth of the matter is nothing tangible.  I have a story.  Something to tell people, but I want more. I want more for myself. I want to really feel a sense of accomplishment.  (Which I do most days.) I want to have pride that I did it, and I did an awesome job.  (Blah Blah Blah! I know.)

Words are very powerful, as Kris said in her last blog.  I am going to use my words to cheer for myself.  Say all the things I wanted to hear.  Things like, "You are awesome at cooking."  "You are doing a great job."  "Thanks for believing in my cookbook", oh wait that is what Kris and Chad would say.    (Focus Brooke!)  I so appreciate Kris and all her soulful wisdom she gives. ( Maybe she could just direct some my way?)  I have become a huge fan of Chef Sarno for his culinary mastery, and his amazing social media encouragement.  The pictures he posts on Instagram of his culinary expertise are pretty mind blowing and inspire me to be better.

What happens when you push yourself out of your comfort zone?  It does makes you better in many ways.  I have become more creative for sure.  I found out I am better than I thought at cooking.  I also realize I am kinda crazy and foolish to devote so much time to any one thing outside my family.  How did Julie Powell cook 524 recipes in one year?  She had a full time job.  Granted she only had one furry baby, her cat, not 3 demanding kids.  How did she really do it?  The amount of money and time she must have spent.  I am not really sure how it was physically possible?  All I can say is way to go!  I am in serious ahhh of your determination. Thank God you got a movie deal, because it would have been so awful for her to have done so much and ended up with nothing.  She did 5 times as much as me.  She deserved Nora Ephron!   

She (Julie Powell) did blog of her many meltdowns along the way throughout her journey.  Today I  woke up on the wrong side of the bed.  Feeling a little sorry for myself, and a tad bit snarky about my choice of hobbies.  I will refuel and be back with a better attitude...  

Later in the day I got brave! I decided to look tofu in the face and deal with it.  I made Super Easy  Chocolate Pie.  The recipe within recipes in CSK.  If you haven't looked closely in  the book, you are probably thinking I don't remember a chocolate pie recipe?  It is there I promise.  Here is what you need to make one yourself. Just 3 ingredients!
I have a feeling if anything can make tofu yummy it would be chocolate.
Fears are being conquered here!  I can do it!
Ya know, it wasn't half bad.  It was actually quite good.  I stand corrected, I guess on a case by case basis I do like tofu!
Somebody knew I needed a hug! Thanks babe xo.

Monday, January 28, 2013

Save The Tuna Salad on Rye

Save the Tuna Salad on Rye pg. 139

I don't think I would have imagined a sandwich made out of almonds & sunflower seeds before Crazy Sexy Kitchen.  Those are finger foods right?  Snacks you might grab a handful of after a workout.  Well it turns out they aren't just for that after all.  You can actually build a delicious sandwich using nuts and seeds as your base.  Who knew??
Curious what you might need to have this for lunch?  Well here ya go...
Just soak your nuts and seeds in the morning so they are ready for the food processor by the afternoon.  The toasted rye bread and dijon mustard hit this sandwich out of the park.
Scoop some Save the Tuna on your bread, and I promise you won't be longing for canned tuna or mayo here.
Good thing there are people like Chef Sarno who come up with this sort of recipe because I couldn't have dreamed this one up in a million years.  I am really glad he did (and so are the tuna)!

Sunday, January 27, 2013

Lentil & Chard Ragout

Simply Green pg. 155
Basic Italian Dressing pg. 225
Lentil & Chard Ragout pg. 183
Lentil & Chard Ragout
We had a very exciting weekend.  My son went to his first formal with his girlfriend.  We had to get him a suit and all the accessories and he looked totally dapper.  I was beaming with pride.  I am sharing this with you because that is my excuse why I didn't blog this weekend.  See for yourself how cute he and his girl looked.
Today I got back to grocery shopping and cooking. Actually, my totally amazing hubby did the shopping for me.  That is always a treat.  I really get sick of going to the store.  It's funny, when I was in my early twenties and first moved out of my parents house I thought grocery shopping was the most fun.  Fast forward an undisclosed amount of years later, and let me just say it's not so much fun anymore!

I have to give my bro a big shout out because he lent me some photography lighting!  I am so excited about this! It has been raining here in LA, so taking pictures outside has been out of the picture so to speak.  So today I started to experiment with indoor photography.  As I began to set up my shot for the Basic Italian Dressing, my puppy decided she really wanted a lick.  The next thing I knew  I heard a crash!  She had knocked the whole jar onto the ground.  We had salad dressing everywhere!  It was even on the ceiling, and we have pretty high ceilings.  So after a big cleanup, and making a second round of dressing I got to have some fun taking pictures.  First I had to take care of my little trouble maker...
I was excited to make a homemade Italian dressing.  As I have said before store bought dressings pretty much suck!  This was fantastic.  The fresh herbs in it tasted terrific.
Basic Italian Dressing
I used the dressing for the Simply Green Salad.  The salad called for the Lemon Oil, but since I had already made that dressing I figured why not try the Basic Italian.  It is great when something so easy tastes so wonderful.

Simply Green
This salad really complimented my dinner,  Lentil & Chard Ragout.  This was a delicious dish that the whole family ate.  Anytime I get thumbs up from my kids the recipe gets a standing ovation from me.  It is so hard to introduce the kids to new foods and get an all around positive outcome.  I purchased these black lentils months before I knew I would make this recipe.  I bought them because they looked pretty! See what I mean.

I love lentils and these were full of flavor and perfect texture. I would use them again when a recipe calls for lentils.  They took a bit longer than the 20 minutes the recipe suggested to cook.  Not a big deal, just an FYI.  Here is what this recipe needs to come alive.
I served the dinner with some muesli bread which was perfect.
This is a one pot meal which I love. Throw all your ingredients in, and wait for the magic to happen. I might have included this recipe in my top 5 if this was last week!

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Cinnamon-Cherry Granola

Cinnamon-Cherry Granola pg. 115
Cinnamon-Cherry Granola
I wasn't always a granola lover.  Growing up it was way more likely that my family had cereals like Cocoa Puffs or Lucky Charms, not granola.   My husband on the other hand has always loved granola.  He would have his bowl of granola, and I would have something much less healthy for breakfast.  It actually wasn't until a couple of years ago, when one of my neighbors brought us some homemade granola that I found I liked.  It was amazing, and so much better than anything I had eaten from the store.  Since then I have found that Whole Foods has many types of granola sold in the bulk bins that are really great.  One of my favorites is their hemp granola.  Yum!

Now you would think when my neighbor brought me delicious homemade granola that I might have tried making it.  But no, I never did.  It seemed way too chefy for me.  All that has changed, because today I made homemade granola.  Well let me rephrase that sentence. Two days ago I started making homemade granola, and today it is finally ready to eat!  I made Cinnamon-Cherry Granola.  It is really awesome.  I wasn't sure I would like it because it is filled with lots of different nuts and seeds but no oats.  I like oats in my granola. This granola has buckwheat groats.  When these little things are dehydrated they are so perfectly crisp, and you don't want for any oats. 
This recipe is not hard to make.  It just takes patience!  It literally takes 2 days to make, I'm not exaggerating.  You will have to soak the buckwheat groats overnight, and then dehydrate them for 12 hours.  While these are dehydrating you will soak the remaining nuts and seeds so they are ready to dehydrate for a minimum of 18 hours. See, 2 days!

Now if you can practice patience you will be rewarded.  Even my dog couldn't stay away from this sweet treat.
I guess the only drawback to this recipe is you need a dehydrator.  You probably could make it in the oven.  I know when my neighbor made me her fabulous granola she baked it.  So if you do make it in the oven let me know how it goes.  Now, I am going to go bring my neighbor some of this amazing homemade granola!

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

My top 5 Favorites

I thought before I begin my last 50 recipes,  I would  share with you some of my favorite dishes I have made thus far. To pick just 5 was REALLY hard.  Looking back on everything  I realize how many dishes I loved.   So here it goes, I will countdown to my most favorite.

# 5 Kale Chips
This one really surprised me.  I could not stand the pre-bagged kale chips, and just figured the same would go for homemade.  I was so pleasantly surprised to find out how yummy they were. 

#4 Coconut and Red Lentil Soup
I love this soup. It is delicious and so satisfying.  I am not the only person in my world that loves this soup. One of my friends make this weekly for her family now.

#3 Chocolate Walnut Cake
This cake is so amazing.  It was so incredibly moist, and I think one of the best cakes I have ever made.  The frosting was initially a little tricky for me to perfect, but the end result was awesome.

#2 Nana's Marinara Sauce with Polenta & Garlicky Mushrooms

My family loved this dinner.  The marinara sauce is great on everything! We have made the marinara sauce over and over.  It is not only great on polenta, but also on pasta and pizza.  The Garlicky Mushrooms that we served with this dinner were fantastic too!

#1 Walnut Falafel
I told you this was my favorite the other day when I first blogged about it, and I am sticking with it.  It was really yummy, and I am sure I will be making them again very soon.

I could have picked 5 more things so easily, but I will leave you with these for now.  What were some of your favorites? Let me know...

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Farmer's Salad # 100

Farmer's Salad pg. 173
Basic Aioli pg. 242
Dijon Vinaigrette pg. 243

I have finally reached 100 recipes!  Yes!  100 is a frickin lot of recipes.  Have you ever made 100 things out of one cookbook?  Me either, until now! I started cooking from Crazy Sexy Kitchen at the end of October.  No doubt I had no idea what I was committing myself to when I decided to cook my way through this book.  It has been a little more challenging than I anticipated.  This is kind of like a cooking boot camp.  I never really considered myself a good cook before this whole vegan Julie/Julia experiment.  I am not sure if I think I am that great now.  I can tell you when I make a meal, and don't have to photograph it or write in the blog it feels so easy!  I am quicker with chopping and prepping.  The only kitchen tool that still hurts me every time I use it is the damn zester.  I have a permanent scar on my thumb. I know icky!  It will be my CSK tattoo.

Recipe 98 is the basic Aioli.  It is super easy to make.  Granted I did have to use the zester, and yes I did get a minor injury.  It was totally worth it because this is a great simple recipe.
Basic Aioli
 Recipe 99 is a Dijon Vinaigrette.  I always wanted to be able to whip up delicious homemade salad dressings.  Store bought dressings are so gross.  The dressing was yummy, and again took minutes to make. I will be eating salads for the rest of the week using it.

Dijon Vinaigrette
Recipe 100 is the Farmer's Salad.  I loved the potatoes and aioli together, especially when the potatoes were warm.  I could have eaten them alone.   I didn't care for the capers in the salad.   I love capers too.  I just didn't love them in the salad.  So next time no capers for me.  Try it for yourself and tell me what you think.  Again this recipe was given a chefy "2" label, but I think that must be because you have to make aioli and salad dressing.  This recipe was a cinch, so don't be afraid. 
Farmer's Salad
Now I am on to my last 50 CSK recipes.  I have to be honest there are a couple recipes I am totally dreading.  I am pretty sure they will not be my thing, but I could end up being pleasantly surprised.  This experience has been a lot of hard work, but it has also been pretty fun too.  Thank you to each one of you who stop by my blog and check it out each day! I just want to say you are really awesome!

Monday, January 21, 2013

Walnut Falafel

Walnut Falafel pg. 153
Fresh Minted Tabouli pg. 207
Hummus pg. 243
Garlic Tahini Dressing pg. 227
I spent most of my life living in Glendale, California.  I only moved a couple of years ago.  My family lived in the same house my entire life.  My husband's family lived in Glendale as well.  We actually bought our first house right across the street from where my husband grew up. That was really cool because although his family had since moved from that house, many of the neighbors remembered him as a child. So that house really felt like home from the second we moved in. His mom and grandma still live in Glendale. Now you are probably wondering why the history on Glendale? Well, Glendale happens to have a really large Armenian demographic, and for that reason some of the most amazing Middle Eastern restaurants! 

All of the dishes I made from CSK today would be served in many restaurants throughout Glendale.  These dishes have become favorites for my family.  We don't live in Glendale anymore, and greatly miss all the delicious foods we became so spoiled with while there.  So it was very exciting to find out how easy these recipes were to prepare.  This was my favorite dish from Crazy Sexy Kitchen!   I have made a lot of recipes from CSK, so those words are a big deal!

Walnut Falafel
First up is a Walnut Falafel.  Traditionally falafel is a deep fried ball or patty made from ground chickpeas and or favabeans.   Chef Sarno's version is made with walnuts and almonds.  It was labeled a "2" insinuating it was chefy to make, but it really was quite simple.  So don't be scared off by the "2".  I dehydrated my falafel, but you can also bake them if you don't own a dehydrator.  These were just amazing.
 I made Fresh Minted Tabouli to go with the falafel.  It was a breeze to make, just chop and serve.
Fresh Minted Tabouli
The recipe suggested making the Garlic Tahini Dressing which I did to accompany the falafel.  Back in Glendale we did not ever get Tahini dressing with our Falafel, but I must say it was awesome.  When I did a little research on the orgin of falafel it said the dish is often served with a tahini dressing.  So maybe it isn't an Armenian custom?  It was yummy, so make it. Drizzling it on top of the falafel wrapped in a pita was heavenly. 
Garlic Tahini Dressing
Lastly, I made the second Hummus recipe in CSK.  I made the first months ago using cashews as the base. (Here is the link if you want to check it out:  This hummus uses a white bean as the base.  It was so good, and easy to mix together.  I don't think you can ever go wrong with hummus.  Plus, homemade hummus is so much better than the store bought stuff.  My kids loved it, and I love when they devour something so healthy.
Hummus (with white beans)
Even my pup wanted in on this!
I must warn you that major garlic breath will come from this meal.
So have some parsley or mint handy to chew on.  (Breath mints too!)  The truth is you won't even care about all that because you will be so happily full!